There has, somewhat predictably, been a backlash against the hype that has surrounded content marketing. 

However, though the backlash is understandable, this does not mean that content marketing has ceased to be useful, far from it. 

Doug Kessler explores the issue in this excellent post, and debunks several of the arguments against.

Here, I've put the question to several agency and client side marketers, as well as the Econsultancy research team.  

Content marketing seemed to reach a tipping point last year. Now we have the backlash, but does it remain a useful tactic?  

Kelvin Newman, organiser of the Content Marketing Show:  

I’m a big fan of the Gartner Hype Cycle which plots the relative enthusiasm for ‘new things'. I think the backlash against content marketing is inevitable, and healthy. We’ll stop treating it as the next ‘big thing’ and instead treat it as business as usual.

Lots of companies have been doing things that could be described as content marketing for decades, and some cases even centuries. Now the latest bubble of hype has popped we can concentrate on the nitty gritty of delivering great content that achieves marketing objectives.

Jason Thibeault, Sr. Director, Marketing Strategy at Limelight Networks:

Content marketing will continue to remain a relevant tactic. In fact, all marketing will eventually become content marketing. The issue is the kind of content. Right now, it’s still product focused. Content needs to be helpful and useful, not just self-promoting.

That’s why content marketing is facing a backlash: because executives are measuring it like they have before only the incubation for content marketing is much, much longer. 

Doug Kessler,Co-Founder & Creative Director at Velocity

The hype will die down but not the practice.  It just makes too much sense: use your expertise to help your prospects… What's not relevant or useful about that?  

Andrew Davies,COO and co-founder at Idio

Yes. Content marketing is a victim of its own (content marketing) success. So it needs to start proving not just talking. And that is exactly the shift. Building business cases that can scale with investment, rather than engagement metrics that often don't.

Andrew Warren Payne, Senior Research Analyst, Econsultancy: 

It's important to recognise that content marketing, despite the rise in the popularity of the term, is not a silver bullet. Indeed, it never has been. Instead, it encompasses a broad range of tactics and strategies but which are put together for common objectives and goals. I think the rise of the term came with the realisation that the sum is greater than the parts, along with the changes in search engine algorithms to surface the best content available.

As customers (both B2B and B2C) spend more time online and become more discerning in their research and purchasing behaviours, the need to provide the best content possible becomes even more imperative. What we are seeing is a rising tide which is universally lifting the expectations of customers. Those keeping ahead are doing well, but those trying to halfheartedly cobble together some information and throw it on a page are sinking. 

But it's important to remember that any marketing activity should be carefully planned out before hand so the correct tactics can be chosen. The more common forms of content marketing will not work as well for every business or product so careful thought needs to be applied.

We've ridden the hype here at Econsultancy, and to prove it, here are more than 70 of the posts and reports we've written on content marketing 

Graham Charlton

Published 11 December, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (3)


Brendon Ross

Great post and I couldn't agree more. I think good content will always be needed. It elevates your product or brand to something more than just a product or brand . My favourite quote from this is: "Content needs to be helpful and useful, not just self-promoting". I think that's key. No one likes a company who only talks about only themselves.

Thanks for sharing!


over 4 years ago


Augie Ray

I tend to be on the side of the haters on this one. I think Content Marketing may be essential, but its value has been oversold.

I didn't really post, however, to engage in a debate but to criticize eConsultancy for not being a bit more balanced on the topic. You wanted to explore the hypothesis that content marketing still has value despite the backlash. Fair enough, but then you need to capture voices from across the continuum on the topic.

What you did was stack the deck--the guy who hosts the "content marketing show"? A guy whose company does "content intelligence"? A marketing strategy pro at a content distribution network? Really, what would you expect these people to say?

I think this is an interesting topic worthy of a much more robust debate from more diverse voices.

over 4 years ago

James Perrin

James Perrin, Digital Communications Specialist at Feefo

Nice post Graham and interesting insights too. I don't really understand why there is a backlash against Content Marketing? I totally understand the argument and need for a more robust model, that companies can invest into over a sustained period. But at it's core Content Marketing is absolutely essential. For anyone interested in, well pretty much anything, having content to facilitate that interest is surely a good thing - for users and businesses providing the content.

over 4 years ago

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